Could long fingernails change your vote?

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Female hand with floral art design nails .

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – When U.S. Senate candidate Derrick Edwards first heard the explanation, he scoffed.  Two female voters complained that their votes – for him – wound up being votes for David Duke.

Edwards, who’s black, is one of 24 candidates in the race, and Duke is a well-known former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.   Yet the two men, who could not be further apart in ideology, find themselves next to each other on the ballot.  The “D” in Duke’s name puts him just above the “E” in Edwards’ name.

And that brings us back to the two female voters who complained that their votes had gone to the wrong man.  Polling commissioners told them that the mistake might have been caused by their long fingernails– tapping the wrong spot on the voting machine screen.   And although Edwards thought the idea was ludicrous, the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office says it’s entirely possible.

U.S. Senate candidate Derrick Edwards

U.S. Senate candidate Derrick Edwards

The agency’s press secretary, Meg Casper, tells WGNO that polling commissioners have reported other cases in which women with long fingernails found that it was difficult to put enough finger pressure on the ballot to vote for their chosen candidate.  Not only that, Casper says voters who have arthritis in their fingers might find the touch screen ballot a little tricky too.

In this first week of early voting, Casper says there have been “no confirmed voting machine problems anywhere in the state.”  But she has some suggestions for voters who might be worried about touching the right spot on the ballot.

David DukeFirst, if you’re having a problem with your ballot, step away from the machine and ask a polling commissioner for help.  (“Commissioner” is the title the Secretary of State’s office gives to anyone assisting with the voting in a polling place.)  Commissioners are allowed to shut down a machine and let a voter move to a different one.

Or, the voter might be handed a pencil.   Why a pencil if the ballot isn’t on paper?   Turns out, that an upside down pencil allows voters to apply just the right pressure on a touch screen, using  the pencil’s eraser.

The one thing voters should not do, according to the Secretary of State’s office, is to leave the polling place unsatisfied with their finished ballots.  Casper reminds voters that once they touch the “cast ballot” button the vote is final– and they will not be given a chance to cut their fingernails and try again.